Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for March 2011

Wisconsin Department of Justice Fails; No Charges Against Ken Kratz

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Folks, this just disgusts me.

I wrote several blogs on this subject last October because what Ken Kratz did as the District Attorney of Calument County was absolutely appalling and beyond disgraceful.  It was shocking, rude, disgusting and absolutely wrong.

At any rate, Kratz must have a guardian angel or two looking out for him because he’s not going to face any charges of prosecutorial malfeasance for calling the much younger Stephanie Van Groll (then a domestic abuse victim) a “hot young nymph” (and other disgraceful things) via text message.  This was not right because of many things — Van Groll’s ex-boyfriend and abuser was being prosecuted then by Ken Kratz, for starters — but the state Department of Justice has determined that while Kratz didn’t do anything good with this, he didn’t “break any laws.”

All I can say are two things; here’s the link to the story, first:

And second — BS!   (BS to the highest degree, even.)

Look.  Justice should not be partisan, OK?  And it’s obvious what happened here — Kratz abused his authority, what appears to be over and over again — yet the DoJ refuses to do anything about it?

Astonishing, even considering the nonsense we’re putting up with right now in Wisconsin, which I have blogged about ad nauseum (just look for posts under “Wisconsin Politics,” “Wisconsin Protests” and “Wisconsin Recall Elections” if you want more on this topic).

Here’s the deal, folks: Ken Kratz managed to dodge a huge bullet here.  It’s unjust, not to mention very, very wrong, for him to have done so, and the only reason I can think of as to why Kratz managed to dodge this bullet is because of Wisconsin politics, sordid though it is.



Written by Barb Caffrey

March 28, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Tired, ill, and reading

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This past week hasn’t been one of my best.

As to what’s wrong?  Well, I hit the six years, six months mark in my grief observance . . . what a passive way to say that I’ve now been without my husband for over six years and six months.  And I hate it, but can’t do anything about it, save remember my beloved husband Michael as he was while he was alive — and know to the bottom of my soul that we will be together again in eternity if at all humanly possible.

Oh, yeah.  And I’ve been sick, too — sinus stuff and flu symptoms, which hasn’t stopped me from looking for work (and wouldn’t have stopped me from accepting a job had one been offered) . . . still no luck on the job front.

Before I go on, I wanted to mention the passing of Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to ever be nominated on a major party ticket for Vice President.  She’s still one of only two women to be nominated (Sarah Palin being the other) . . . Ms. Ferraro was a tough, strong, smart, capable and confident woman who would’ve made an exceptional Vice President and an even better President, had she ever had the opportunity. 

Ms. Ferraro was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton for President, and spoke for me as well as for many others after the 5/31/08 debacle that was the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee that decided the fate of Mrs. Clinton and the Democratic nomination — not at the hands of the voters, but instead at the hands of the DNC itself.  Ms. Ferraro was astonished and disgusted, and her clear, strong voice helped smooth the waters afterward and made our dissent as HRC Dems more forceful, coherent and logical.  I will miss Ms. Ferraro and her tenacity, and I hope “The Good Place (TM)” will appreciate Ms. Ferraro and bring her joy, peace and whatever else she wants as her productive and happy afterlife.

Now, on to less important stuff.

This past week I’ve read at least six books, most of which I’m going to review at and/or Shiny Book Review down the line.  The best of the lot was Louisa Young’s MY DEAR, I WANTED TO TELL YOU, as it’s a horrifically realistic portrait of World War I, but IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS by Erik Larson was also very good and very horrifying, the latter book being about Ambassador to Germany William Dodd and his family, who served during 1933-1937 being stationed in Berlin and saw first-hand what was going on with Adolf Hitler, Josef Goebbels, and all the others.  The only book I really couldn’t get behind was Gina Showalter’s UNRAVELED, this being the sequel to INTERTWINED (I liked INTERTWINED, mind you) . . . just didn’t buy most of it, and the reason I didn’t buy it was that the characterization wasn’t as solid as in the previous novel.  (When your main character, Aden, is a guy with a bunch of dead people inside his head, you need to believe in him or the concept doesn’t work.  I bought it in INTERTWINED, didn’t buy it in UNRAVELED.  Would still give Ms. Showalter one more chance to sell me on this universe down the line, though, because of the previous, far-stronger novel.)

I’ve also had a problem recently in focusing my attention on one thing, or even on any ten things . . . I believe this is due to exhaustion, and being ill, and trying to pretend I’m neither one.

Well, the time for pretending is over; I hope by saying out loud, in public, even (as blogging is a public endeavor even if no one reads it but me), that I’m going to take some down-time if I can makes sense.

Other than that, I continue to watch Wisconsin politics.  The Governor’s budget repair bill was stalled in the courts, but the Republicans tried an unusual end-around that I’m not even sure I can describe — they believe by doing this rather odd thing (you have to publish a bill specifically by the Secretary of State’s office in Wisconsin or it’s not legal, and after it’s published it takes ten days to take effect; this hasn’t happened as a Dane County court enjoined that with a temporary restraining order, but a different place in the government has published the bill and the Republicans believe that’s enough and the bill — which stops the state from collectively bargaining with employees in public employee unions — is now law.  I have my doubts on that score but have no doubt — zero — that the original judge who gave the temporary restraining order will have more to say tomorrow and that any legal action will be officially blocked by five PM tomorrow.)  Note that the Wisconsin Republicans did this weird “end-around” thing after 5 PM on a Friday because they wanted to make positive news, such as it is, and mute the negative news a little . . . tomorrow I’m sure all the crap will hit the fan, again.

Oh, yeah.  I nearly forgot to add that one of my friends, whom I respect highly, has told me that he thinks I should not write the Elfyverse (my universe, my concept, my voice) or Michael’s universes (granted, all of those were Michael’s concept and me trying to match Michael’s voice, which is very tough) and instead should think of something else to write and do that.

Well, here’s my thought on that — it’s up to me what I do, and these days I’m glad to get any ideas at all.  If I can get one story consistently talking to me so I can do more with it, I’m going to work with it — whether it’s a new story, an existing story in my Elfyverse or an existing story in Michael’s, it doesn’t matter.  Only the strength of the story matters . . . I just hope I’ll start hearing something after I heal up a little, because right now none of my stories are talking to me, at all.

Note that I appreciate my friend for saying what he did even though I feel he’s flat wrong.  Being able to honestly communicate is important, even if you don’t always agree — probably because you can’t always agree, it’s important to have some real communication going on even if it’s, “I really don’t like what you’re doing, Barb, and wish you’d stop.”  (My response wouldn’t be printable, I’m afraid, but that’s the drawback to free, honest and open communication.)

Oh, and last, Writers of the Future bounced both of my stories out in the last two quarters . . . what else is new?

New review at SBR: Seven Deadly Scenarios

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Folks, I talked more about SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS in my previous blog post (about the importance of military planning); now it’s time to talk about the review I’ve just done at SBR for this terrifying book.

Andrew F. Krepinevich is a military “futurist,” meaning he projects what’s now known about various countries or terrorist groups and then tries to extrapolate from that in order to give our military some sort of strategic advantage.  Because it’s important to plan, yet so many of our military high-rankers continue to do what military high-rankers have always done — prepare for the last war, not the one that’s coming — well, that’s what keeps Krepinevich on track, and that’s exactly what SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS is all about.

Truly, you owe it to yourself to read this frightening book, just to know exactly what the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and all of the folks who work with these august personages) have to deal with on a daily basis.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm

The Importance of Military and Strategic Planning

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Folks, I’ve been reading SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS by Andrew F. Krepinevich this week, and it’s a reminder that we need strategic and military planning as a country.  This is an especially timely reminder because we have three wars currently going on — in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now in Libya — and if we don’t use our fighting forces wisely, we may as well kiss them good bye and save steps.

What Krepinevich does by postulating seven scenarios that could incapacitate the US of A (one being a pandemic, another the global collapse of the economy, the third an unexpected attack by China, and four others), military planners need to do in order to try to plan for the inevitable.  Planning exists for a reason; if we refuse to plan, we run the risk of having completely and totally unanticipated things happen.  Military “futurists” (as Krepinevich describes himself) try to anticipate things well in advance as best they can, then hope someone will learn from their scenarios so if these horrible things happen, we as a country won’t be caught flat-footed.

The most chilling things I learned from SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS are historical, however; from the introduction, I found out that military exercises in 1932 — yes, 1932! — showed the vulnerability of the United States at Pearl Harbor, yet the only thing the “games arbiter” did was to say that what the opposing forces in the war games did was “out of bounds” because they came in on Sunday, before dawn, and did something unprecedented. 

Let me say this again.  Everyone said when Pearl Harbor was hit, “How could this happen?  Why would anyone do this?  Especially in this way?  We didn’t see it coming!”  Yet the United States did have warning.  Their own people, at least a few of ’em, saw vulnerability in advance and yet they weren’t heeded.


Then, in another historical incident, the German panzer battalions showed how quickly they could advance on a country or nation during war games exercises in 1937 — yet France did not pay enough attention (didn’t realize the blitzkrieg was coming for ’em) and felt in 1940 that they’d have many months to resist Hitler.  And were wrong, because as we all now know, France fell after only six weeks, then were under Hitler’s domination until the end of the war in 1945.

And finally, Lieutenant General (retired) Paul van Riper, in what was called the “Millenium Challenge,” found ways to exploit the vulnerability of our current high-tech military forces but was ignored — once again, the war games “arbiters” ruled what van Riper was doing was “out of bounds” and the rules were changed so the current high-tech military could win the Millenium Challenge for themselves.  And the lessons van Riper was trying to teach as commander of the “Red” (basically, he was aping the military capacity of Third World, mostly-Muslim countries, proving that low-tech does not equal stupid) were once again blown off.

Look.  I would prefer we didn’t have wars, much less three at once.  But since we do have wars, and it looks like we’ll always have a need for fighting men and women, we’d best start learning how to use our people effectively and learn from things like the Millenium Challenge rather than finding a way to make the current crop of military commanders feel good about their current forces — especially as I thought “self esteem” was not something military commanders were supposed to concern themselves with (most especially not their own self-esteem, such as when they rig war games to provide an outcome favorable for themselves as was most certainly explicated by anecdotal evidence by Krepinevich).

These SEVEN DEADLY SCENARIOS are scary, especially as there’s no conclusion to them — Krepinevich lays the stuff out there, then it just ends, almost as if the reader is placed into the Oval Office and must, for one moment, realize the burdens placed upon the Commander-in-Chief.  And they’re even scarier when you realize these scenarios must already be known or Krepinevich wouldn’t be talking about ’em; the ones that have been kept private must be even worse, and that is truly appalling indeed.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm

And another update — Scott Walker releases e-mails, shows sharp divide

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We have another update, this time with breaking news.

Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), had to release tens of thousands of e-mails to his office after a Freedom of Information Act request that was recently settled in court.  The suit was brought in Madison by the independent newspaper, The Isthmus along with the Associated Press; Walker agreed to release the e-mails without admitting any fault in the matter, and will pay the court costs, amounting to $7000.

Here’s the link to that story:

Note that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is one of the most conservative newspapers in the state of Wisconsin; they endorsed Scott Walker for Governor.  Keep that in mind as you read this.

For another look, here’s the same story from the Huffington Post online newspaper; note that the HuffPo often tends to be quite liberal.

The letters against, as quoted from the HuffPo, are as follows:

“Your handling of the current situation in Madison is an embarrassment to the people of Wisconsin. You appear to be an ignorant puppet and I am ashamed to have you as governor of the state I call home,” wrote a person who said he lived in Wisconsin and is married to a teacher.

(then, a little later down, another e-mailer said:)

“Please, keep your backhanded ‘thank you’s and empty compliments to yourself,” one person who identified himself as a state corrections worker wrote to Walker. “Actions speak louder than words, and every one of your actions speaks quite clearly to your irrational hatred of the very people that have dedicated their lives and careers to keeping the state running safely and efficiently.”


Other e-mails the AP reviewed came from Wisconsin residents working in the private sector.

“I urge you to protect collective bargaining rights for public employees. Making collective bargaining illegal would be devastating to Wisconsin’s working families and economy,” wrote a resident from Oak Creek, Wis.

While there were some e-mails in favor, most were against.   Note this is not what Scott Walker claimed at the time; he claimed there was a “silent majority” that backed him.  (And the day after he said that, 40,000 protestors flooded the state Capitol.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 18, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Updates — Madison judge blocks budget bill; Tim Dillard pitches well; Vinny Rottino

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OK, it’s update time.

First, we have a judge in Madison, Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi, who has temporarily blocked the recent “budget repair bill” from taking effect.  Here’s a link to that:

Note this is a follow-up article, where it says the Attorney General of Wisconsin will file an appeal on Monday.  (I wanted to give the most up-to-date information.)  But it says what Judge Sumi did, and why the Attorney General will be appealing it . . . this is the best article, right now, about what’s going on in Wisconsin.  (She said that the process of the “budget repair bill” with the Conference Committee appeared to violate Wisconsin’s Open Records Law, just as state Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, had said at the time.)

Next, pitcher Tim Dillard cemented his case to make the Milwaukee Brewers active roster (as a big leaguer, naturally), as he pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief today in a Spring Training game after the starter (whose name escapes me, sorry) ended up only going 1/3 of an inning and giving up four or five runs.  (I normally would be more precise than this, but for two things: one, it’s still Spring Training.  And two, I haven’t yet seen a box score of this game though I looked.  If I am able to find one I will update this post to be more precise.)

I really like Dillard; I always have.  Dillard is a right-handed control pitcher, and I’ve thought for years that if the Brewers gave him a chance, they’d be pleasantly surprised.

Right now with the Brewers, two pitchers are unavailable — Zach Greinke is on the disabled list and will miss at least two and a half weeks of the season with a broken rib (and other bruised ribs), and Manny Parra likely will start the season on the DL also because his back is bad and he’s been so far unable to pitch in a game during Spring Training.  So there’s room for Dillard, and he’s pitching well at a time he needs to — with a new manager, Ron Roenicke, to impress — so I’m really and truly hoping this will finally be his time.

** Shaun Marcum also has a sore shoulder, though Marcum doubts he’ll miss any time at all.  (Just thought I should notate this for the record. **

In other baseball news, I haven’t yet seen anything new on catcher-infielder-outfielder Vinny Rottino, who is now in the Florida Marlins system.  He’d have to play outstandingly well to get called up as he is now about thirty-one years old, and he’s eligible for salary arbitration as he’d had cups of coffee in three separate seasons (so far his lifetime batting average in the bigs is something like .208 but that’s misleading).  Rottino has speed and plays good defense in the infield and outfield; he was converted to catcher late and is more of an “emergency catcher” than anything else as he does not have a strong rate of throwing accuracy from that position, nor is his defense anything more than adequate as best as I can discern from statistics.

Still, I’m really hoping Vinny Rottino will somehow make it up to the bigs again, because he’s an excellent right-handed clutch hitter, and he plays good defense in the infield and outfield.  I don’t know how well he pinch hits, but if he develops that skill as well, he may well prove valuable to someone despite his somewhat-advanced age for a rookie.

Considering Casey McGehee of the Brewers, who is a third baseman, didn’t make it up to the big leagues until he was twenty-six or twenty-seven, and will be twenty-nine this year, and he’s done very, very well, I think Vinny Rottino still has a shot.  McGehee, unlike Rottino, has power and a lot of it, but there have been others who have made it due to their defensive skills before (and their hitting skills; Rottino has speed, remember, along with good defense, and he swiped over twenty bases last year in the minors — AA and AAA, respectively) and I am confident that if some team gives Rottino a chance as a utility infielder/outfielder, they will be pleasantly surprised.

If anyone knows how Rottino is doing in Spring Training (I believe he’s with the Marlins’ minor league squad), please let me know as I’ll be more than pleased to update this blog.

Now there’s been some looting in Japan — UPDATE

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Folks, I knew that the lack of looting in Japan couldn’t go on forever . . . with so many people (over 400,000) lacking homes, 1.3 million with no water, hundreds of thousands without power . . . well, it was only a matter of time.

Ed Schultz reported tonight during his TV show at MSNBC that while there hasn’t been a lot of looting, there has actually been some.  He showed some video tape that hasn’t yet been posted as far as I can tell . . . I’m not the world’s most tech-savvy person, so if someone else has found it, please give me a shout-out and I’ll add it to this post . . . that definitely shows some Japanese people looting a store in a coastal area.

Granted, it’s been very, very little looting by the standards of Chile or, more graphically, Hurricane Katrina in the USA.  But there now has been some.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm